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Chou-Mahou Tairiku WOZZ (SNES) artwork

Chou-Mahou Tairiku WOZZ (SNES) review

"The thing is, as I played through WOZZ, I found myself becoming more and more bored as time went on until I got to the point where I had to overcome a massive internal struggle just to play long enough to get through one of the game’s many dungeons. For me, the game just doesn’t have “it”."

Wistfully, I recall the day I’d have been thrilled to play Chou-Mahou Tairiku WOZZ. I’ve always been a huge RPG fan and have spent countless hours of my time seeking out and sampling any of those games I could whatever means necessary.

Like what seemed to be the vast majority of RPGs released during the era of the Super Nintendo, WOZZ never saw the light of day in America. Luckily, I’m not the only person in the world who apparently looks at us not getting these games as the greatest injustice our fair planet has ever seen. Even better, some of those like-minded chaps are technologically proficient enough to do something about it. As a result, a translation patch for this 1995 Bullet Proof Software game was available in late 2006.

I’d been intrigued by the premise of WOZZ for some time. The land of WOZZ is under attack from the followers of the demon lord Balam. While Sullivan, that world’s most powerful wizard, is unable to stand up to the dark deity, the old rascal has one trick left up his sleeve. Gathering his supporters, he reaches into our world to summon the legendary heroes destined to save WOZZ -- a trio of comically mismatched teenagers from different nations. Oh.....and until Balam is dead, no one’s getting back to Earth.

While the Japanese Leona seems pretty cool with this, going so far as to offer to help virtually any WOZZian with any sort of problem, getting her comrades to fall into line may not be so easy. Sure, the Chinese Chun is ready and willing to help, but he’s also easily scared -- not the best attribute for budding heroes expected to dash into dank caves and haunted castles with nary a second thought. And Shot, our American representative, is little more than a loud jerk. After realizing he’s stuck on a new planet, his goal is to get to Balam as quick as possible, kill the demon and get home. If the people of one land are constantly being turned into monsters by a magical rain, tough luck for them. If the children of another town are lamenting the disappearance of their parents, that’s not his problem.

These three are not only diverse in their attitudes, but also in how they’ll keep the team afloat in a strange land. Shot is the muscle of the group, while Chun is the magician. Leona, while seemingly unspectacular in every facet of her being, does have the ability to invent new items from old -- allowing the party access to improved weapons, vehicles for transportation and robots to summon for assistance in tough battles. And if they aren’t enough, there are a number of WOZZ-dwellers ready, willing and able to join forces. The alchemist Madisto isn’t much of a fighter, but knows virtually every healing spell in the game LONG before Chun learns ‘em. Several others, such as faerie princess Eliza, can utilize weapons and spells with equal proficiency.

Unfortunately, only one native is allowed to travel with the Earthlings at any given time -- which is too bad as many of them are far superior on the battlefield to the three full-timers. Leona and Shot are melee specialists, while Chun's inability to wield weapons essentially makes him a spell-casting specialist. Most of the natives are at least as good as Shot physically, but still more than a match for Chun mentally.

Once one looks past the somewhat original characters, this is a pretty standard RPG. Battles, which seem to take place every few steps, are shown in the same isometric point of view used in Breath of Fire. Spell effects are decent for the time and also will be seen frequently, as this game puts a lot of emphasis on the proper (and constant) use of magic. Late in the game, hitting an enemy with a spell it’s weak against can equal a couple thousand hit points worth of damage -- far better than the average melee attack doled out by Shot and Leona.

The thing is, as I played through WOZZ, I found myself becoming more and more bored as time went on until I got to the point where I had to overcome a massive internal struggle just to play long enough to get through one of the game’s many dungeons. For me, the game just doesn’t have “it”.

The big problem is that WOZZ has very little plot and even less character development, turning it into a seemingly neverending series of random battles and the occasional boss fight. Sure, a lot of old-school RPGs like the early Dragon Quest games were the same way, but to me, there was one huge difference. Those classic games captivated my imagination. During the hours upon hours I played those games, in my mind I was the one in the fantasy world locked in conflict with the dread forces of evil. WOZZ just didn't do this for me. The entire time I played, I felt like I was simply going through the motions controlling a group of people who meant nothing to me. There was no anonymous hero I could pretend was me and the three I controlled were too "blah" to keep my interest.

These kids just don't have much depth. There are occasional scraps of conversation between them and they do gradually learn to work as a team, but those brief moments of interaction seem forced. Despite being a selfish prick, Shot doesn’t hesitate to put his life at risk to protect a small child in one village. Chun overcomes his cowardice more than once to bail out his teammates. Leona doubts in her ability to help the team after one of her inventions doesn’t work as planned -- only to be pulled out of her funk by the other two.

As for the situation the Wonder Triplets find themselves in, well, after being released by Sullivan, the kids wander from one land to the next, meeting each species of inhabitants (a diverse group, ranging from friendly undead to sentient goldfish) and saving them from Balam’s minions -- none of whom have any real significance beyond being the final opponent in any given dungeon. It’s not like Balam's much better, though, as it's roughly two-thirds of the way through the game before the demon lord finally deigns to put in even a brief appearance and it took a couple more hours before anything vaguely resembling a motive for his evil-doing was mentioned. And, meanwhile, the random battles keep piling up, making all of this seem even more meaningless.

Sadly, there’s not much to distract one from the monotony of those fights. For an RPG released towards the end of the 16-bit generation, there is a surprising lack of anything to break up the extremely linear quest. When Leona figures out how to invent vehicles like boats and planes, the party can find a few goodies on a handful of tiny islands and caves that initially were off-limits. In the underworld, players can visit a battle arena and win a great accessory that adds 100 points to ALL of one lucky character's stats....if they can stomach 25 CONSECUTIVE RANDOMLY-GENERATED BATTLES!!! Around this point was when I realized my spirit was broken.

I wouldn’t say WOZZ is a bad game, but it wasn't capable of captivating me for the duration. There were too many battles and not enough of anything else to keep me interested. The game had the potential to be great, but the linear quest and lack of character and plot development derailed its promise.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (May 04, 2007)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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